Experienced Golfer Tips: Choosing Your Best 14 Clubs

Rules in golf established a maximum of 14 golf clubs in the bag (Both USGA and R&A have the same limit). This means that golfer have to choose which fourteen arrows take to the hunt. And I use this analogy as golf sometimes can be conceived as hunting. The hole is the price, the fairway, roughs, and trees are the forest. The golfer is the Indian and lastly the golf clubs are the arrows.

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Even though I have never hunted in my life, and maybe it is your case as well (Or not), I guess that there are a lot of things to have into consideration, I understand that people are not hunting with arrows anymore but for the sake of this article let me have it! So, depending which kind of weather, if it is a windy location, which kind of animal, how tough it is, etc. You will always want to have the right equipment as you can carry only so many thing with you, right?

In golf, you are given a very important task at the beginning of your golf round. You may only take 14 clubs with you and at no time during the round you are allow to change them (even if you leave another one behind) or even to change one itself, like lets say twisting the club shaft with your knee it is not allowed. One extra thing to consider is that the 14 club limits happen despite how many golf holes you have played or even if you used every club or not. Meaning if at hole number 9 you want to change your 3 wood for another one since you “haven’t used it”, this will still be a violation to golf rules and you will be disqualified.

So, having said this why do you care about this? Easy, I wanted to give you some advice in which are the best 14 golf clubs you should choose for your golf round. I will considerate of course that there can always be a budget problem as not all of we are golf pros or have the means to have 3 or 4 different sets of golf clubs (Golf pros not only have a lot of the same clubs when they are travelling the tour but also, they have different sets that choose according to the golf course they are going to play).

There was also a time in which both USGA and R&A wanted to limited the number of wedges you could have in your bag as they felt having so many options (60, 58, 56, 54, 52, 50, plus their different bounces) made golfers rely on their golf club options instead of their swing ability and feel, and that this is opposite to what you are expected from golf. Still at this moment, there are not restrictions whatsoever so feel free to choose whatever you want.

I think the best for any golfer would be to buy 16 golf clubs. And then, regarding some bullet point I will shorty get into, which ones to choose. My recommendation is to buy:

  • 1W (Driver wood)
  • 3W (Fairway wood)
  • 5W (Fairway wood)
  • 3H (Hybrid)
  • 4H (Hybrid)
  • Irons 4 to PW (7 iron sets)
  • 52-degree wedge
  • 56-degree wedge
  • 58-degree wedge
  • Putter

Now, imagining you already have all this clubs we should see what we have to considerate in order to choose the right fourteen. First, a driver and a putter is a must, se we already have 12 left. This will allow us to have the first and last shot of every hole taking care of. Then a 3W in my opinion is mandatory, as you will use them in par 5’s and long par 4’s plus you can also use it from the tee in some par 4’s that may have a very narrow fairway with out of bounds or water next to it and you will want more control over distance in this case. Meaning we have only 11 golf clubs yet to choose, and when it becomes very important to know two things:

  • Which kind of golfer are you?
  • Which kind of golf course are you going to play?

The first question is very important, as at least in a humble way you should be able to answer this question. The type of answer I am looking for is, Am I a long hitter player? Am I a slicer? Am I a short game player? Am I an all-around player with no particular skill?

Basically, you have to know which are your strengths and more important your weaknesses. Once you have figured this out, lets use I like to call the 75-25 % rule. This means, choose 75% of your game trying to give you more options in your weak area, and invest only 25 % on the things you are better.

I will give you my example, I am a long hitter and quite accurate with my long game. I hit 300 yards with my driver and from 180 yards I would probably grab a 7 iron. Now I am not very good from the 120 to approach zone, but I am very good from the bunker. So, as you can see I feel very comfortable from long distances and short bunkers, and very uncomfortably from short distances (I am also very uncomfortable with my putter but there is nothing to choose there). So, my bag has, besides my putter, 3 wedges, this is a 60-degree, a 56-degree and a 52-degree, then PW to 3 iron, 3W and Driver. And I have spare 3 wood and even a 2 iron that I may choose if the golf course is very long or windy.

As you can see, from long distances (Anything over 200+ yards), I do not have much options, but that’s ok because I am always very comfortable thus I can manage some arrangements with my swing in order to get the shot I want. For example, I can swing very hard a 3 iron to get an extra 20 yards from my usual distance, or gently hit a 3 wood to have a similar result in distance but with a higher fly in case I need to go over a bunker. Now on the other side, since I am very bad from the mid-short range, meaning from 120 to 40 yards, I prefer to have as many club options as I can and always go for a full swing allowing the club to take care of the distance. So, from about 60 yards, my 60-degree is perfect, from 80 yards, my 56-degree is my choice and from 100 I would use my 52-degree. If I have a lot of wind and want a lower trajectory I may use my 52 degree exactly have swing, and if I need a lot of height I will go for my 60 degree open my club face and swing rapidly below the golf ball, do you see what I mean? This pre set allows me as well to have different options from the bunker, mostly for short saves I used my 60 and if not I use my 56. The point is, I have a lot of options when it comes to my weak area, and even though I forfeit options in my long game, that’s OK, because I feel comfortable about managing this situation with my swing abilities.

This is then, what I like you to answer yourself. Where is your comfort zone, short game? Long game? And to choose your clubs accordingly with my 75-25% rule, give your weaker part of your game more options, and in your comfort zone just trust yourself.

Regarding the second question, it may be a little bit trickier, as some times we haven’t played before the golf course we are about to play or we only played it very few times, at least not enough to remember all the holes and having a game plan ready.

Why is this important? Depending on the type of golf course you are going to play you should do some adjustments to you golf set. For example, if you are playing a links golf course in which playing rolling shots is a good idea, as most of the golf course in Ireland and Scotland are, then maybe take a wedge out of your bag and add an extra hybrid or wood. Usually golf courses are design two ways, either they have the problem before the greens, or on the sides, if the first scenario is your case then you should focus on having as many approach options as possible as a lot of time you will need very accurate distance into the green, if the second is the situation think of having clubs that will allow you to play low shorts that will get a lot of rolling, have in mind that this kind of shorts are much more easy to do than high approach shots with backspin.

And if you haven’t play the golf course yet, there are plenty of websites that have maps of golf courses, also asking people who already played is a good idea, some time the clubs themselves have a website with an interactive map and a club pro comment that will let you know in advanced which kind of golf course you will be playing against.

Christian Maulhardt

Hi, my name is Christian Maulhardt, I am a scratch golfer born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I started playing golf when I was fourteen and was already a single digit handicap by age 15. When I was 17 I went to the US to try to earn scholarships to study university there. After a 14 golf round tournament with people from all around the world, I earn 6 scholarships to study in the US. Still I decided to stay in Argentina. At age 19 I did the course for golf instruction in Argentina, once I have finished it I still decided to stay an amateur so I could play golf with all my friends. I belong to San Andres Golf Club near Buenos Aires, it is the oldest golf course in South America, designed by Mungo Park, winner of the first British Open. It is a beautiful parkland design with big trees, narrow fairways and really depth rough, to assure you a very joyfully round! If you come down here, you should play it! Also in Argentina, we have 3 golf courses in the best 100 in the world, they are the Buenos Aires Golf Club, Olivos and Jockey Club. All of them are great golf courses. Hope my articles are helpful to you and please do not hesitate to write to me at [email protected] if you have any doubts or if you are coming to Argentina to play golf. Hope to see you soon!!

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